4 Signs You Have an Emotionally Abusive Husband
- Amanda Idleman Contributing Writer
- Published Feb 22, 2024
Marriage can be hard. To make a love last for a lifetime, we have to be willing to endure many ups and downs. We are given endless chances to forgive and show love beyond reason. Yet, sometimes the healthy back and forth that love requires can become unhealthy and even abusive.
God does not desire for you to stay stuck in an abusive relationship. Abuse is never a part of his best plan for your life, and if you find yourself in an abusive relationship, it's vital for you to find a safe place to get the help, healing, and support that you need.
A great place to start finding help is through the National Domestic Abuse Hotline. You can call or text this line to find help anytime at 1-800-799-7233. Emotional abuse can be more tricky to name than other more obvious forms of abuse. An emotionally abusive relationship can be equally as dangerous as other types of abuse and should be taken seriously. It's important to seek ways to get support, counsel, and healing for yourself and your spouse.
Abuse does not mean there is no hope for your relationship, but it does mean that very hard work must be done to create accountability, growth, healing, and a safe space in your home. Without a deep commitment to change, remaining in this kind of relationship can be damaging.
What Are the Types of Emotional Abuse?
Emotional abuse can come in different forms. Sometimes the abuse can come in the form of shame and control. This can look like monitoring your every move in an effort to control you or shaming you for every choice you make.
Another form of emotional abuse can be persistent criticism and humiliation. Your spouse may patronize you, embarrass you often in public, and dismiss your thoughts or criticize them. The use of "always" and "never" statements can be commonly used to emphasize their critiques.
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse with the goal of exerting power, control, and manipulation over others. People who experience gaslighting are usually left questioning their own reality. Accusing and blaming can be unhealthy in a relationship. Your spouse may accuse you constantly of being unfaithful. They also are very sensitive to any feedback you give. Somehow everything becomes your fault.
Another abusive situation looks like neglect and isolation. An emotionally abusive person may neglect your needs by withholding attention from you, such as giving the silent treatment and shutting down any form of communication. They might not support you or call you needy or emotional when you ask for support. You may experience them becoming so upset whenever you make plans with other people that you either do not socialize with other people or, if you do, the abuser guilts you the whole time you are apart, so you end up leaving the social event early or choose not to go next time. They may also come between you and your family, perhaps claiming that your family is the ones controlling you or that they don't care about you.
Many times emotional abuse looks like all of these tactics used at different times in one relationship. Abuse is rarely isolated or singular in its occurrence.
4 Signs of Emotional Abuse
As emotional abuse can often be subtle, it is also hard to detect, especially if you are the one who is experiencing it. There are a few signs you can look for in an emotionally abusive relationship.
1. Feeling Constantly Invalidated
First, you constantly feel invalidated. There is no space for you to share your true thoughts, feelings, or opinions without them being dismissed. They may also continuously criticize you for not meeting unrealistically high standards that they have set. There is no encouragement in this sort of relationship.
2. Being Put Down Regularly
When you are together, you feel constantly put down. They make a point to treat you as inferior, speak in a condescending tone, and put down your hopes, thoughts, and values. They may also blame you for mistakes that they made. Your self-esteem is often very low due to the constant negativity your spouse offers.
3. Feeling Manipulated Often
Emotional abuse also comes in the form of manipulation. Often you may feel guilty about things that are not your fault. Blame and shame are improperly assigned in a manipulative situation. They may get overly upset or angry when you refuse to do what they want. Lying is a common part of manipulation. They may tell lies in order to compel you to do what they wish. Truth is so essential to maintaining a healthy relationship.
4. You Feel Controlled
Emotional abuse takes away your sense of value and personal autonomy. Your partner may always need to know exactly where you are, who you are talking to, and more. You may feel like they do not trust you to make any of your own interactions or choices in your life. They may be overly jealous or criticize the important people in your life in an attempt to alienate you from others.
3 Steps Towards Health in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship
If you remain in an abusive relationship without seeking healing, freedom, counsel, and restoration, there are some very real negative consequences that you may experience in your life. You may struggle with low self-esteem, struggle with your mental health, and have trouble in other relationships in your life. God wants you to experience his radical healing love and grace in your marriage.
1. Set Healthy Boundaries
It's important to set healthy boundaries in your relationship and find a path forward towards health and healing together. Abuse is rarely black and white. It can be tricky to "assign blame" because you both are engaged in the relationship, and both can bring good and bad into your home.
2. Gather a Support Network
It takes a village to build a healthy, thriving marriage. Enlist the help of trusted mentors, friends, family, and counselors. Ask them to pray for you and help speak wisdom on moving forward towards God's best for your life. If God is able to heal your marriage, it will take the support of others, and if he is calling you into something new, you will need others to lean on through that very difficult transition.
3. Invest in Your Emotional Well-Being
Finding those who will encourage you through this hard season is so important! You need light, life, and truth to be spoken into your life daily. Find places where you can gain that emotional/spiritual support so you can find a place where you are mentally healthy. Remember, you cannot control, change, or take the blame for your husband. You can pray for him, invest in yourself, and trust that God has a hope and a future for your life!
Be encouraged that God has a better plan for your marriage! He has the power to bring healing, keep your marriage together even as you overcome abusive patterns, or give you a safe place to start anew if safety in your relationship is not possible.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/AntonioGuillem
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God's Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.